Markey, Boucher Could Trade Chairmanships

Spokesman says not to expect decision for a couple of days
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According to a spokesman for the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, no decision has been made on whether or not Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), chairman of the Telecommuncations & Internet Subcommittee, will trade that gavel for the chairmanship of the Energy & Air Quality Subcommittee. Markey already chairs the Select Committee.

"There has been no final decision on that," said Select Committee spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder, "and I wouldn't expect any for a couple of days at least."

Global warming and energy policy are expected to be major, high-profile issues. That prominence is thought to be one of the reasons that Henry Waxman of California made, and won, his bid to replace Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) atop the House Energy & Commerce Committee. Energy & Air Quality could be an attractive post for Markey. But he has been a fixture atop the Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee on issues like network neutrality, food marketing and kids programming.

Both the Telecom and Energy & Air Quality subcommittees are under Energy & Commerce, with Markey having seniority for whichever post he wants.

If Markey does decide to consolidate his energy and environmental interests, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) would like the Telecom post.

While Burnham-Snyder says most subcommittees are already reorganizing because they know who all their members will be, Energy & Commerce will be losing Rep. Hilda Solis of California, who has been nominated for Labor Secretary. But since her confirmation hearing isn't until Friday, Commerce won't be counting its chickens too soon, or finish reorganizing, before that hearing given the recent events that saw Bill Richardson withdraw his name from nomination as Commerce Secretary. Not that Solis is expected not to be confirmed, but "I think people are a little bit gun shy," said one Select Committee source.

Markey would continue to chair the Select Committee if he decided to go for the chairmanship of the related Energy post, said Burnham-Snyder.

Current Energy & Air Quality Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) said in an interview Monday that he expected Markey to make the bid, and if so, would seek the post atop Telecommunications & Internet, which oversees communications issues and of which he is already an active member as co-chair.

In fact, Boucher is even now working on

a bill that would subsidize rooftop DTV antennas.

He also this week called on legislators to help free up more money for DTV-to-analog converter box distribution, and once proposed using spectrum auction funds to fund converter-box subsidies.

Boucher, a 13-term representative from Southwest Virginia, has taken a strong interest in new media issues, helping launch the House Internet Caucus in 1996 and currently co-chairing the 180-member group. He is a fan of

network neutrality legislation

, which puts him on the same page as President-Elect Barack Obama.

Boucher is a former Virginia state senator and a native of Abingdon, VA.

A spokesperson for Boucher's office had not gotten back to B&C at press time, while a call to Rep. Markey was referred to the Select Committee.